Surface Conductance of Sodium Bentonite in Water1

H. van Olphen and M. H. Waxman
Shell Development Company, Exploration and Production Research Division, Houston, Texas
1 Publication no. 110, Shell Development Company, Exploration and Production Research Division, Houston, Texas.

Abstract: The concept of surface conductance and its role in the interpretation of the formation resistivity factor of reservoir rocks is reviewed.

The specific surface conductance of a clay is determined for four narrow particle-size fractions of sodium Wyoming bentonite in conductivity water. The values are derived from the specific conductance of gels of these clays on the basis of the picture of an idealized cubic network structure of the clay plates. The average surface conductance for internal and external surfaces of the bentonites is found to be 3.2 × 10−9 ohm−1, which is 0.55 × the value expected when all exchangeable ions are assigned their infinite dilution mobility. The data are independent of particle size.

In addition, conductivity data are presented for clay suspensions in a wide range of concentrations. In extremely dilute suspensions, the contribution of the clay to the conductivity when expressed per unit weight of clay (the so-called “weight conductance”) is smaller than expected from an independent movement of particle and counter ions. This is interpreted to be partly a result of both electrophoretic and relaxation retardation, indicating that the electrical double layer on sodium bentonite has a condensed character. Probably part of the counter ions are entirely immobilized by adsorption on the surface.

With increasing clay concentration, further compression of the double layer increases the retardation effects and a further decrease of the weight conductance is observed. A minimum is reached at a concentration of a few tenths of one percent clay at which, according to viscosity and light absorption data, particle interaction becomes apparent. At this point, immobilization of the particles and bridging between the electrodes gradually eliminate the retardation effects, and surface conductance takes over. The weight conductance increases gradually until a constant value is reached in a concentration range of 5 to 12 g of clay per 100 ml gel, from which the above value of the specific surface conductance was computed.

Clays and Clay Minerals; 1956 v. 5; no. 1; p. 61-80; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1956.0050107
© 1956, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)